New Theatre, Oxford
3rd September 2007
We all know what Erasure sound like, don’t we? Even though the arrangements and even instrumentation may change (they recorded album of acoustic/country and western versions of some of their old songs last year), an Erasure song is still unmistakable – not least due to Andy Bell’s distinctive voice. He could sing the Chinese national anthem and make it sound like a torch song of loss and redemption.
There was a point in the mid 90s where they became very unfashionable – and songs from that era are noticeably absent tonight. But the hardcore support (now far more the age for Radio 2 than Radio 1) meant they reached a point where they could afford to put out whatever music they wanted without having to rely on commercial success – which meant they stuck around long enough to benefit from the 2000s synthpop resurgence.
On this tour, in support of their new album, Light at the End of the World, out are Andy’s flamboyant leotards and feathers, but in are glittery camouflage gear and Jackson Pollock-inspired suits. A sense of humour pervades – Andy prances, struts, joins the backing singers in cheesy arm movements and even introduces a lamb puppet called Mint Sauce to ‘help’ him sing. The costume change interval is accompanied by a pages-from-Ceefax ambient track and a stream-of-consciousness monologue from screens on the stage, encouraging us to wave our hands like we’re on drugs – among other random thoughts.
So what about the new stuff? Well, surrounded by the soaring catchiness of songs like Chorus and the anthemic Love to Hate You, it doesn’t fare too badly. Breathe – the only track from 2005’s Nightbird here – is easily the best thing since their heyday, but recent single Sunday Girl isn’t too bad either. Nothing exciting enough to draw in many new fans – but certainly enough to keep the existing ones happy.